Keys to Sustaining Your Training

by Bill Swift on November 12, 2018

in Training


I read recently that training organizations spend something like 60 billion dollars a year on employee education. At Cascade Employers Association we are a bit short of 60 billion, but we do a heck of a lot of training. But just because you expose employees to a few new concepts or ideas does not mean that they will remember what you want them to remember. The “forgetting curve” means that 70% of content will be forgotten within 24 hours. So, is your training worth the time and money?

Turns out there are a few very important things workplaces can do to overcome the forgetting curve so that the training investment brings the returns that we all want.

A common misconception is that the training itself is the most important part of the process. Perhaps it is those of us who do the training that are furthering this idea. Research tells us that the things workplace managers do before and after the training event are far more important in the transfer of information. This does not mean we trainers are not important. It means that the context and support from the workplace makes all the difference in making the training stick. We need to give our employees coherence, repetition, and practice to build more sustainability into our training.

Here are a few things our training team gets excited about when we approach a workplace training because we are increasing the likelihood that the lessons will stick:

  • We love it when the boss sits in on the pre-training conversation and sets up clear follow-up activities related to the training. These are activities that continue to answer the questions of SO WHAT? WHY? and NOW WHAT?
  • We love it when workplaces build in brief refresher and booster quizzes to keep ideas alive.
  • We love it when management actually digs in during the trainings with the rest of the team, as opposed to stepping out all day. (While we understand business priorities, you can see the message being sent to other participants when the boss keeps stepping out.)
  • We love it when new leadership concepts are incorporated into subsequent meeting agendas so that we keep these concepts alive.
If your goal is to produce long-term retention, and if your goal is to produce behavior change, then what you do after training is more important than what you do during training.

We are keenly aware of the “use it or lose it” dynamic in training. (Insert your favorite muscle or exercise analogy here.) Here’s to taking a second look at what happens BEFORE and AFTER your next workplace session!

Looking forward to making your training sustainable, practical and useful.

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